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Canadians support their Constitutional Monarchy - and so do Australians!

By David Flint - posted Tuesday, 24 December 2002


It is strange indeed that the Australian media has not reported the strong support for the constitutional monarchy in two polls commissioned this year by leading Canadian media organisations. After all, republicanism seems to be considered particularly newsworthy here. When a Canadian minister, during The Queen's Golden Jubilee visit, mused about Canada becoming a republic, that actually made headlines in Australia!

One poll commissioned by the Globe and Mail and CTV recorded a 79 per cent support for the Canadian constitutional monarchy! They "somewhat" or "strongly" agreed with the statement "I support the constitutional monarchy as Canada's current form of government where we elect governments whose leader becomes Prime Minister". This is a far more accurate question than that asked in any Australian opinion poll on this issue. What is particularly interesting is the result in French Canada.

The Regional breakdown was:

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Atlantic Canada 87%
Saskatchewan and Manitoba 84%
Alberta 85%
Ontario 89%
British Columbia 79%
Quebec 73%
Canada 79%

The breakdown according to age answers those who say (as Mr Cassin wrote recently in The Age and former Senator Susan Ryan prophesises) that as constitutional monarchists are dying off, republicans need only sit back to get their republic. This is of course subject to their ever agreeing on what sort of republic they want. Even the ARM now admits it doesn't have the answer but it still wants a republic! The breakdown was:-

Youngest Canadians 86%
Middle Aged Canadians 76%
Older Canadians 74%

Apart from registering massive support for the constitutional monarchy among the youth, the poll found that both younger (66 per cent) and older Canadians (64 per cent) were more likely to feel that the constitutional monarchy helps to define Canada's identity than the middle-aged (57 per cent) did. There is a parallel in Australia. Research at the time of the referendum indicated the middle aged were more inclined to vote "Yes" than either younger or older Australians. So these results offer little comfort to Mr Cassin or Senator Ryan - they will be waiting forever.

So we are back where we were at the beginning of this debate. The republicans demand a republic but have no idea what sort of republic. And we Australians have had the advantage of something superior to an opinion poll - a Swiss-style referendum. Fortunately our Australian Founding Fathers insisted on this. Why? Because in a referendum, unlike a plebiscite, the people are told in advance and in detail what they are really voting for. This is why so many republicans now want a plebiscite.

Notwithstanding a massively funded and supported 'Yes' campaign by the elite establishment in the referendum in 1999, all states voted 'No' as did 72 per cent of electorates. On this result, we were told that many or most of the No voters were really republicans. Since most of those who say this predicted and campaigned for a 'Yes' vote, how would they know? The point is that when Australians considered the republicans' official preferred model, which the taxpayers paid generously for them to develop, the people indicated an overwhelming preference for what they had and consequently still have.

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But back to opinion polls, which, like plebiscites, can be so easily manipulated.

Until November it had been a long time since any opinion poll on this issue had been published in Australia. Note that I say "published" - we do not know if polls were taken but not actually published. As some media organisations are campaigning for a republic they do have a certain conflict of interest on this issue!

A poll was in fact published in The Australian on 15 November 2002, in time for a conference at Griffith University in Brisbane, held in conjunction with that newspaper and the Australian Republican Movement. (It also coincided with the British media's concocted Burrell affair designed to exact revenge on the monarchy because of the success of the Golden Jubilee they had predicted would fail.) The conference was free to the public, but only those supporting some form of republic were invited to speak. So why it was not openly called what it was - a conference to promote republicanism - rather than the misleading title "Australian Constitutional Futures: The Nature of our Future Nation" is not clear. What is clear is that after Corowa, official republicans are not at all interested in hearing from anybody who questions the need for such change.

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About the Author

David Flint is a former chairman of the Australian Press Council and the Australian Broadcasting Authority, is author of The Twilight of the Elites, and Malice in Media Land, published by Freedom Publishing. His latest monograph is Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Sydney, 2006

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